Since today is election day in the United States, I thought I’d roundup some bestsellers that deal with the political election process.
Like so any of my good ideas, it underestimated the problems it entailed.
Coming up with a list of good political novels from the bestselling lists of the first six decades of the twentieth century is harder than it sounds. There are plenty of novels that show the impact of decisions by political officials, but not a great many that dive into the business of electoral politics.
The 1964 bestseller by Fletcher Knebel and Charles W. Bailey II, Convention, would appear a logical choice but for one thing: It wasn’t a particularly good novel then, and it has dated badly.
My short list of titles that are focused on electoral politics are:
Coniston is a 1906 work by the American novelist Winston Churchill about an uneducated, stuttering county boy who becomes a backroom force in mid-1800 New Hampshire politics.
Churchill’s portrait of Jethro Bass is as good as any from the pen of Anthony Trollope or Thomas Hardy. My review won’t be coming up here until 2016, but you’re welcome to read ahead.
The Man is Irvin Wallace’s 1964 bestseller about America’s first Black president, which I reviewed here earlier this year. The story has premonitions of this month’s news.
A Lion Is in the Streets by Adria Locke Langley is a 1945 novel written from the perspective of the wife of a charismatic Southern politician. (Imagine Hillary Rodham Clinton writing a novel about her marriage and you’ll see the possibilities.)
After James Cagney paid a quarter million dollars for its film rights, The New York Times described Langley’s novel as “lurid.” It might have been lurid for The Gray Lady in 1950, but it’s pretty tame today. My review of A Lion Is in the Streets comes out in 2015.
© 2014 Linda Gorton Aragoni
Photo credit: Linda Aragoni